Troubled Waters (The Lake Trilogy, Book 2)

BOOK: Troubled Waters (The Lake Trilogy, Book 2)
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The Lake Trilogy
 

Troubled Waters

 

 

 

AnnaLisa Grant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Truman House

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

For Kelly, Lisa B., Jenna, and Lisa S.
Your friendship makes my heart swell.

 

 

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

-Joseph Campbell

 

Chapter 1

 

I wake up and rub my eyes in another morning of disbelief, confusion, and elation. Every morning for the last two weeks I’ve woken with the first thought that finding Will’s ring amongst my packed boxes was just a dream. But it wasn’t.  It’s here, firmly affixed to the middle finger of my clenched fist, shining and reflecting the bit of light streaming in from the crack in the curtains. It rests on my hand next to Will’s grandmother’s ring. I look at the two rings next to each other and think how perfectly they go together.

My heart fills with joy as I recall the night we exchanged these rings. I think about the promise we made to each other to never give up on our love and our future together. I remember feeling so hopeful, so happy. I didn’t know what Will, Luke and Claire were planning, but it felt like we were on top, conquering the giant. We were winning and nothing was going to change that.

Just as quickly as it soared, my heart drops as I’m plagued by the one question that I can’t find an answer to: Why would Will take off the ring he swore to wear forever?

Fear fills my heart and my mind follows suit. I run scenarios through my head of the terrible and
unimaginable
things Gregory Meyer wouldn’t hesitate to do to his own son. Has he sequestered Will to a place with 24-hour surveillance where Will has no contact with the outside world? Has Meyer threatened my family or me so much so that Will has had no choice but to abandon me? Did he have the ring pried from Will’s cold, dead finger? The most terrifying thought of all is strangely not related to Will’s demise. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t entertained the very real possibility that Will gave the ring back to me out of his own volition as a means of saying goodbye.

I can’t do this anymore. The waiting and unknowing are slowly driving me insane. Clearly Will isn’t going to show up at my door. If he were going to, he would have by now. There has to be a logical reason as to why Will would do the exact opposite of what he promised. I want to take it as a sign of something good, not something devastating and I need some reassurance.

It’s time to tell Luke and Claire.

Luke and Claire have been exceptionally patient with me since Will’s disappearance but I’m not sure how much longer that is going to last. I was compliant in helping to pack and unpack the house, even though I’ve been constantly distracted. Will’s father having called off the search after less than a month was so incredibly distasteful that it made me physically ill. It wasn’t enough to threaten everyone I love and force us out of town, but for him to move on so flippantly gave more evidence to the fact that ice is the only thing that runs through his veins.

I give Will’s ring one last look before placing it back in the ring box and into my nightstand. Even though I’m not sure I’m ready to give up my secret, I know I can’t wait any longer to tell my uncle- and aunt-turned-parents.

After a quick shower I grab the ring box and put it in my pocket. Then I’m downstairs preparing for whatever answers Luke and Claire may have, if any.

I’m beginning to feel really stupid. What if I was supposed to tell Luke and Claire as soon as I found the ring? What if there’s some clue or answer or message from Will that I could have been clinging to these last few weeks but I missed it out of selfishness for wanting to keep the ring to myself?  After all, they were working with Will on some master plan to take his father down before my world ended when Will dropped off the face of it. Maybe they’re just waiting for me to say something.

“Ok, that’s it. Classes start soon and you haven’t even gone to see the campus yet,” Luke says as I pick at my breakfast, lost in thought. Luke is gentle, but it’s clear he’s fed up with my zombie-like state.

“Uncle Luke, really, I…”

“No, Layla, you have to do this. No one is trying to keep you from dealing with Will’s disappearance in your own way, but you have to start taking some steps to re-enter society.”

“I know…it’s just…hard,” I choke out.

“Layla, your life cannot exist in the story of Will’s disappearance. Will’s disappearance is a chapter in the story of
your
life,” Luke says taking me by the shoulders. “You have to turn the pages, start a new chapter.”

“Has anyone heard anything at all?” I say, not knowing how to reply to his statement. I know he’s right, but he doesn’t know about me finding Will’s ring a week after we moved here, which means there’s clearly more to this story line than I’m aware of.

“Nothing new.” I’ve watched Luke take on Claire’s calm and gentle tone more and more. Like Claire, he seems to know just when to apply it.

The look on my face gives me away as I think about Will’s ring safely tucked away in my pocket. “What is it, Layla?” Luke asks, seeing through me.

“It’s nothing,” I lie, not sure how to tell him about the golden weight in my pocket.

“Layla…please don’t start lying to me now.” Luke is serious. “If you know something, you need to tell me.”

“I was about to say the same thing to you.” With a deep sigh I reach into my pocket and pull out the velvet box and place it on the kitchen counter.

“What’s this?” Luke asks, furrowing his brow.

“Open it.”

“Is this Will’s ring?” Luke says as the box creeks open.

“Yes.”

“Did Will give this back to you before he went to Hickory?”

“No. It was packed, alone, in a box underneath a mound of crumpled newspaper a week after we arrived here,” I say. I can’t help but smile a little looking at it.

“Why are you just showing it to me now?” Luke asks
with disappointment.

“I…I don’t know. I think I was waiting for something to happen…for Will to show up. But now…I’m thinking maybe you have some answers that I would have gotten had I shown you the ring two weeks ago. The three of you were planning something but you never let me know what. After a while I thought…maybe you were supposed to tell me something when I found it.” I choke this out, not sure if I’m ready for whatever it is Luke is going to say.

Luke takes a long moment before he says anything, like he’s searching for the right words that won’t upset me. “Layla, I’m so sorry, but I don’t know anything about the ring. Will never said anything to us about it.” Luke’s eyes are sad as he snaps the box shut. He can’t give me an answer that will make the pain in my heart any less intense and that’s difficult for him.

“You’ve got to know something! How does it show up in a box with my name on it? Will obviously meant for me to have it! Why? Why would he take it off? Why would he do this, Uncle Luke?” I land in a nearby chair, my face in my hands. “I just need some answers.”

“I wish I knew what to tell you. I hate that you’re going through so much pain.” Luke pulls a chair up to face me and moves my hands so he can look at me. “Whatever the reason Will made sure you had this ring, it was rooted in his love for you.”

“All I do is go back and forth between the best and worst my mind can come up with. At best, Will packed it so I would have it for safe keeping just in case his father discovered whatever it was you were planning. Will is going to be back for it, and me, any day now.” I take a deep breath, calming myself like Claire taught me.

“And at worst?” Luke prompts.

“At worst…it’s Will’s way of saying good-bye. He finally realized that I’m not really worth all the trouble.” I’ve run this picture through my head so many times that I don’t cry anymore at the thought of Will ending our relationship.

“Layla don’t…” Luke begins.

“I know…I know…I have to cling to the best. I can’t give up hope that he didn’t walk away from me, that he’s alive. Even if he doesn’t know who he is, he’s alive, and that’s all that matters.” I fight back tears but there are too many and they begin to roll down my cheeks.

“We’re never going to give up hope.” Luke holds me tightly in his arms and I feel so safe. It’s a feeling I’ve gotten used to. I could never have cried or shown emotion like this with Gram. Those years of being constantly reminded of how she blamed me for my parents’ death are behind me. “I know it’s hard. We’re here for you when you’re ready to talk.”

“Thank you. I’m ok. Wherever Will is, I know he would want me to move forward; not on, but forward.” I manage a small, thin-lipped smile and Luke echoes.

“You need to know that Claire and I are concerned about you. You don’t talk about Will except to ask if there are any new developments, and now I know you found Will’s ring and kept if from us for weeks. You’ve got to get out what you’ve been keeping inside, Layla.”

“I know. There are moments when I feel like I’m going crazy. I don’t have any answers so my mind exaggerates every scenario I think of. I want to talk…I just don’t want to talk about Will in the past tense. I’ll be ready to talk about him again soon. I promise.” I sigh knowing that all I want to do right now is search every possible route between Davidson and Hickory and find the love of my life and his mother. “I guess I could at least go pick up my books,” I concede.

“That’s my girl. Here are the keys. The address is already in the GPS. Go,” he instructs as he kisses the top of my head. I love it when he does that.

The campus isn’t far from where we live and is easy to find. The University is a major part of life in this town, so there are signs everywhere. I park near the admissions office and get a map of the campus along with my schedule. There’s no one around to ask for help if I get lost, so I cross my fingers and make my way to the bookstore.

It’s a beautiful campus. I notice the architecture and think that they’ve done an excellent job at mixing the new buildings with the old. I know how hard it is to mix the two. I hope I do a better job this time around.

As I open the door to the bookstore I catch a glimpse of a woman entering an adjacent building. I do a double take because from this distance the woman looks just like Will’s mother, Eliana Meyer. She has long dark red hair and is stunningly beautiful even from this distance. Clearly I haven’t been around people enough since we left North Carolina. I’ve been so out of touch that I’m afraid everyone I see will look like Will or his mother. I rub my eyes and shake it off as I continue through the door.

I buy my books and take them back to the car before I find the buildings where my classes will be. I’m fortunate that my classes seem to all be in one central location in two adjacent buildings. As I wrap up my self-guided tour of Florida State University, I notice there’s a coffee shop right on campus. It looks like a pretty cool place that might have relatively cheap coffee and a dimly lit corner with my name on it so I make a mental note to check it out when classes start.

I’ve rounded out my tour, coming back full circle to the center of campus, when I see the woman again. It’s eerie how much she looks like Will’s mother. Without thinking I quicken my pace down the walkway and follow her to the College of Business building. I don’t know why but I’ve got to get a better look at her. I reach the building and go inside but I’ve lost her. It’s silent. Not even the sound of a single footstep. I contemplate for a brief moment the idea of opening each door in this hall but come to my senses and realize I need to go before campus security is after me.

I feel like such an idiot as I drive home. What was I going to say if I caught up with this doppelganger? “Hello. You look just like my missing boyfriend’s mother, who is also missing by the way.” Luke is right – I have to get out of this. I’ll never give up hope, but I have to move forward.
When
Will comes back, he’ll be so upset if he finds out I stunted myself in a place of desperate anticipation. He’ll want to know what I’ve been doing, how I’ve grown, how I continued to get stronger. He always challenged me to do my best, so telling him I spent my days wishing and waiting will not be sufficient.

I walk into the kitchen with my stack of books and Luke helps me do my best not to let them topple to the floor when I put them on the table.

“I hope you’re saving your money for the rest of my schooling. These books cost as much as this semester’s tuition! My college fund is going to run dry sooner than later,” I say picking up the one book that managed to escape and hit the floor. “And I still have to go back for one more that they didn’t have in stock.”

“I remember those days. It’s worth every penny! What did you think of the campus? Claire and I stopped by the other day and thought it was beautiful,” he says.

BOOK: Troubled Waters (The Lake Trilogy, Book 2)
2.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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